3rd Place Open
This was not my first take at the Fool’s Gold since I had an opportunity to race it year ago and was fortunate enough to take the win. I was looking forward to come back on this challenging course and have some fun. Making a drive all the way from South Florida makes for quite a trip but myself as well as other Floridians find it well worth it.
Just two weeks ago I raced in Val Di Sole, Italy in the Cross Country Masters World Championship where I can proudly say I podiumed and shared the stage with an Olympic medalist and 3-time World Champion and other top European riders. I felt already accomplished but realized that this endurance event would be a good aid to clear my mind and enjoy the quite different scenery to our local bike scene as well as a good moment to finish my season on a good note.
The race site here was beautiful and mountains awaiting were rough, especially the first and last section.
The truly off-road part of the course was pretty spectacular, especially the flowy single track and super tough and fun Bull Mountain. I had a wonderful time riding those sections and tackling the small creeks, steep uphill’s filled with roots which were so tough that only strong riders could make it all the way up, as well as having a blast on the super-fast and technical downhills. It was all so enjoyable that often I was forgetting that I was actually racing. There were times where I was battling my competition and swapping spots but also times when I felt like I was on my own in the whole forest and could hear only the trickling of water, rustling of leaves and my own breath.
I don’t think I will ever forget how I felt on the final rocky descent coming back to the finish line. The descent was so loose, rocky and bumpy that I experienced at the same time pain and almost complete numbness in my hands and feet. For sure my body was not used to descends like this and it made it more of a challenge for me than anything else. Coasting to the finish line after that was quite elevating and I had a brilliant time going back and forth with a few male riders and giving one rider a sprint finish which made if fun for both of us as well as spectators. Finishing third and still placing on the podium this year leaves me completely content and satisfied, especially knowing how deep and stacked with the talented riders the field was. Now I just wish we had more races like this closer to home. I hope one day I will be able to focus solely on endurance racing and hopefully compete for the overall NUE series points.